Undercarriages are what literally “move” equipment. And Berco has been the world’s leading OEM manufacturer of undercarriage systems and components for the biggest names in heavy equipment for 100 years. So, chances are, a Berco undercarriage is already moving your machine.
In fact, Berco opened up as a little repair shop. Capitalizing on his extraordinary vision and mechanical ability, Vezio Bertoni transformed the shop into a workshop and then a factory. The company continued to develop further, extending its range to different kinds of machine tools (especially grinders), and continued to expand over the following years.
It was only during the 1930s that the Ferrara-based company entered the undercarriage market, soon becoming one of the most important players in the world. During the late 1970s, the Bertoni family started the process that would transfer ownership to the Hoesch Group, then to Krupp and finally, at the end of the 1990s, to thyssenkrupp.
In 1918 Vezio Bertoni opened up a bicycle repair shop, continuing his father’s work. Soon he also began to repair agricultural machinery and vehicles abandoned by the US Army in the countryside of Ferrara. Vezio Bertoni relied on his competence and on his fellow citizens, so shortly the small shop turned into a workshop of 30 employees and began to produce also machine tools and spare parts for tractors.
When the entrepreneur Roberto Cotti joined Vezio Bertoni, the company became the “Bertoni & Cotti”. The production was extended to different machine tools: grinding machines, boring machines, presses, lathes, sanding machines, equipment for workshops. Berco products stood out nationwide at the expense of long-established companies.
The company was by far the largest and most important industry in the region (5000 square meters of covered area) with over 100 employees. Berco products started to be exported to Europe and the company became so important to acquire two smaller ones between 1938 and 1939.
There were 624 employees, the company was getting bigger and bigger, but the outbreak of the World War II compromised the growth. After 2 years of almost total inactivity, Berco got back on its feet in 1946 and renewed itself, starting to produce components for tracked machines, overhaul equipment for earthmoving machines and presses for assembly chains.
Berco reached a 90 million social capital and became a joint-stock company. In 1957, the business partner Cotti resigned and Gianni Bertoni, son of Vezio, replaced him. The factory has doubled its size and has been renovated and modernized.
Berco was one of the most important companies in its sector not only in Italy, but also in foreign markets all over the world: 60% of the undercarriages produced were exported to the US and Canadian markets and Berco authorized dealers were about 120. The first hot-stamping workshop of the region was built with an area of 3000 square meters and 27 of the most powerful and modern machines on the market.
Gianni Bertoni officially became CEO of the company, launching it to globalization with over 2500 employees. Further he brought the turnover to 60 billion lire (only a decade before the turnover was almost 4 billion). In 1976 he sold 50% of Berco to the German steel multinational Hoesch.
Berco covered 35% of the entire national undercarriage production and 6 out of 10 spare parts exported overseas were produced by Berco. 50% of the products were exported in the US, so in order to save the company from the US market crisis, Bertoni sold the remaining 50% to Hoesch. With the new CEO Giovanni Bertoni the company entered the OEM market and restructuring plans, investments and technological innovation were defined.
Berco boasted important customers like Komatsu, John Deere, Liebherr, Volvo as well as important representatives of the Middle Eastern market such as United Motors and Middle East. In 1992 the German multinational Krupp acquired the Hoesch group, giving life to the Krupp AG company Hoesch-Krupp. In 1998, Krupp AG merged with Thyssen AG, giving birth to ThyssenKrupp.
The share of exported products reached 90% and Berco reached the goal of 250,000 tons of finished product in a fiscal year. Berco got bigger, there were 3000 employees and the foreign branches became three: Berco of America in Dubuque (Iowa), Berco South America in Campo Limpo (SP) and Berco Bulgaria in Apriltsi.
The fourth foreign branch in India starts the production. Berco has automated many of its lines and the OEM continues to be the biggest slice of revenue. In October 2017 a joint-venture between the Operations Units Undercarriages, Forging and Machining of Components Technology Business Area took place, and the new BU, Forged Technologies, was created.